Saturday, April 15, 2017

God is Love

As Christians when we thing about the words God is Love we tend to think of them as a statement of theology. 1 John 4 boldly states that God is love. In the face of all the pain and evil we see in the world it is a pretty audacious claim. One that changes the way we approach life. Still I have been thinking of it a bit different. I have been thinking of God is Love as a statement of philosophy. That is that we cannot have a coherent notion of love unless we believe in God. Christians can talk about the mystery of love forever. When they ponder it they often talk about what happened on Good Friday and Easter as the best example of unfathomable love. 

Atheists are in a very different place. They believe in love. I mean they believe in the human experience. How could they not? Yet when they try and go deeper and explain exactly what it is, where do they go? They go to brain chemistry. They go to evolutionary biology. We have certain responses to certain stimuli because they created some survival advantage for us at some point in our evolution.  That is what we call love. We value love not because it is inherently valuable but because of the random events of our evolution. We enjoy love for the same reason a shark enjoys killing. We evolved that way. 

St John Paul II said man cannot make sense of himself unless he gives himself away in love. I think most realize this is true. Yet is it a feature or a defect? An atheist would be forced to say even that meaning is an illusion. It is just that the feelings evolution gave us with respect to love are strong but they are not any more meaningful because they are strong. A Christian would say it is meaningful because when you love you connect with God. This is because God is love. So love can be meaningful if there is a God to make it meaningful. If there is no God then it can't be despite the fact that it really, really feels meaningful. 

This is a place where the atheist has to make a choice. Either to believe, on faith, that love is meaningless despite his feelings or to stop being an atheist and say there must be something more than the material world. The other choice is to simply live the contradiction and not think about it too hard. The last choice is obviously the easiest. Yet if atheists pride themselves on anything it is their brutally honest rationality. Some have taken the second option. Jennifer Fulwiler is the name that pops to mind. 

So love implies God. To say God is love you would also have to say God implies love. Does it really? Certainly people have believed in God's that didn't always love. Yet if we that love is the highest human value and acknowledge that it is that way because God made it so. Then would we not be justified to conclude that God must be love? Fr Robert Spitzer actually takes it a step further and suggests that God must be the greatest possible lover. That the Christian God should be seen as possible and even probable because it paints God as the greatest lover in giving His son to die for our sins. 

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